South Africans are voting in their third democratic general elections, with long queues reported outside many polling stations.
Voting is an important experience for many
President Thabo Mbeki voted early in Pretoria.
"The big day has come. The politicians have been doing a lot of talking. It is now time for the people to speak. I hope that all the millions who have registered will come out today to vote."
Former President Nelson Mandela voted in Johannesburg.
"I feel elated that I can be able to assert my right as a citizen. I sincerely hope that the whole world will abandon violence and use peaceful methods of asserting their rights.
"Our appeal is that every citizen must assert his or her right as a citizen and the highest manner in which to assert that right is to exercise your vote and to be able to decide who should run the country."
South Africa's chief electoral officer, Brigalia Bam, accompanied Mr Mandela to vote.
"It means so much. I do associate this man, this leader, with my own personal liberation and the securing of my own dignity."
Archbishop Desmond Tutu voted north of Cape Town.
"It is often said that the first election after freedom is the last one, because most countries degenerate into dictatorships. We are disproving that. We are getting to be experts. We can count our votes."
Tony Leon, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance
"The voter is sovereign... I have every faith and confidence in their judgment by which I will obviously abide."
Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Inkatha Freedom Party leader
"There are signs that the election is not free and fair in
William Stimela, a 37-year-old bus driver, in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township.
"Life has improved since 1994. Only people who didn't struggle before 1994 will say things aren't better. If all of us decide to stay home or take a holiday, we could end up with the same old government (as before)."
The last apartheid leader, FW de Klerk, voted in the wine-producing town of Paarl, north of Cape Town.
"I will support the NNP [the successor to the National Party he led] because it is trying to be part of the solution.
"The typical western European form of confrontational politics is not the right method for South Africa right now."
Alvina Masinga, 59, voted from her wheelchair in KwaZulu-Natal's largest township, Umlazi.
"I feel like I did when I voted for the first time in 1994 - fantastic."
Desmond Ntuli, 30, voted in KwaZulu-Natal, one of just two provinces where the ruling ANC does not have a majority.
"Everywhere you hear ANC, ANC. That is not good for the country. If one party is too strong, they start to ignore the wishes of ordinary people like me."